Worldwide shipments of new smartphones declined slightly during Q4 2017, but still hit a record new high for the year overall, with 1.55bn units shipped globally, according to the latest figures from Counterpoint Research.
Global smartphone shipments were up two per cent year-on-year, with the top 10 brands capturing 77 per cent of the market. Apple surpassed Samsung to become the leading seller for Q4, taking 18.6 per cent of the market, but Samsung remained the global leader over the course of the year, averaging three per cent growth while Apple held static, and selling 318.1m units.
Despite the holiday season boost, the top three brands all saw sales drop year-on-year during Q4, with Huawei's sales down nine per cent compared to the same perod in 2016. Xiaomi, in contrast, saw massive growth, with sales up 83 per cent year-on-year to 31m, or 7.5 per cent of the market.
"For the first time in Q4 2017, shipments of seven out of the top ten brands declined year-on-year, signalling a tough quarter for most of the OEMs," said Jeff Fieldhack, research director at Counterpoint Research. "Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo were the only brands among the top ten which grew year-on-year, mostly due to strong performances outside of China."
"The latest flock of posh flagships may have had consumers hitting the pause button in the holiday quarter," said Anthony Scarsella, research manager for mobile phones at IDC. "With ultra-high-end flagships all the rage in 2017, many of these new bezel-less wonders proved to be more of a luxury than a necessity among upgraders. Even though we have seen new full-screen displays, advanced biometrics, and improved artificial intelligence, the new and higher price points could be outweighing the benefits of having the latest and greatest device in hand."
Looking at the year, Samsung and Apple remain firm in first and second place respectively, but Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi all recorded substantial growth, ranging from Huawei's 10 per cent to Xiaomi's 56 per cent.
"Out of all the regions, only MEA and India grew in double digits during the quarter," said Shobhit Srivastava, research analyst at Counterpoint Research. "However, decline in shipments in China and Europe impacted the overall smartphone market leading to a decline of five per cent for the first time ever in Q4 2017.
"Going forward, the global smartphone market growth will be linked to the upgrade rate of users across different regions. A longer replacement cycle will mean handset brands might need to tweak their products and go-to-market strategy. This will eventually mean that handset brands will need to adopt a regional specific strategy to push users to upgrade faster than their current cycle."